Only continuous and constructive dialogue from which one learns and matures can and should be the new driving force of our society, not conditioning, exclusivity and unilateralism, Prime Minister Duško Marković said at the round table “Cooperation between the Government and NGOs in the EU Accession Process”.
The continuity of the dialogue, he added, is being improved day by day and that he is “glad that we have overcome some of the shortcomings highlighted at our previous meeting”. However, the Prime Minister said that the key critics of the Government’s policies and results in the negotiation process did not come to this meeting.
PM Marković pointed out that through several legislative activities Montenegro was able to noticeably improve the environment for the NGO sector. This year, EUR 3.5 million has been allocated from the state budget for NGO projects. The tendency of growth of budget support to the work of NGOs is evident, so in the last two years, the Government has co-financed 69 NGO projects in the total amount of EUR 1.2 million.
“Since the beginning of the negotiation process, Montenegro has taken the position that negotiation needs to be honest and transparent. Not only were we the only country to bring the civilian sector into working groups, but we did not push our shortcomings and problems under the rug, we put them on the table. To discuss them and find the best and applicable solution for Montenegrin society,” the Prime Minister said and added that it would not be fair to misuse such an approach and use the information to achieve some other goals or short-term daily political points.
PM Marković reiterated that Montenegro is committed to fulfilling its obligations under its European agenda and that there is no alternative the EU membership for Montenegro. Noting that negotiations are a two-way process, Prime Minister Marković said that Montenegro is closely monitoring developments in the EU and that is encouraged by the election of the new European Commission. He said that, according to the messages, enlargement is returning to the focus of policy in Brussels.
“We understand the current European context. But what we want is European leadership in the Western Balkans, not any other that does not share or belong to the European value system,” the Prime Minister said.
He stressed that the focus of the country’s efforts continues to be on building a stable and strong rule of law system, as the cornerstone of the democratic society Montenegro.
“A significant reaffirmation of our efforts is the recent news that the Council of Europe has adopted the Report on meeting the interim benchmarks for Chapter 8, which is a step towards the opening of the only remaining chapter,” Marković said.
He pointed out that the country now has to meet most of the provisional benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24.
Today’s meeting with NGOs is the third meeting this year where Prime Minister Marković talked directly with representatives of the civil sector. The round table is organised within the eu4me project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP in Montenegro.
The head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, said that the new European Commission had started operating and that it was significant for all candidate countries. He added that while there were some mixed signals from the EU, the enlargement process was continuing and news about Chapter 8 was a signal for that.
“If the EU promises something, the European Union will then fulfil it,” Ambassador Orav said, adding that it is important for Montenegro to continue with its reforms.
Representatives of the civil sector praised the Prime Minister’s approach to speaking directly with them and expressed certain views and suggestions regarding the chapters in which they participate, most notably in the area of the rule of law and agriculture./ibna